Despite more challenging conditions Richard Bay Coal terminal (RBCT) exported 61.14mt (million tonnes) of coal last year, about the same as it had exported in 2008 when it exported 61.7mt, the company said last week.
"We faced critical business challenges last year, compared to a smoother 1008. These related to integration problems with the new Terminal Control System," said Raymond Chirwa, Chief Executive of Richards Bay Coal Terminal.
"This year however heralds the start of the stabilization process and we are confident that we will complete the Phase V expansion projects in April," he added.
The company said that Transnet Freight Rail only delivered 61mt last year. However, by using its stockpile buffer, RBTC achieved 0.14mt more then Transnet delivered.
"Transnet Freight Rail's non-performance in meeting our rail capacity's requirements is now the only constraint in the coal value chain," said Chirwa.
He said Transnet had not delivered on its mandate and had drawn in additional technical resources to ramp up capacity. A collaborative effort is what will help South Africa regain its leadership postion in global coal export markets," Chirwa said.
The terminal expects to incorporate all new users after they have signed contracts and a 91million tonne terminal will be rolled out at the beginning of the second quarter of the year, when the expansion project is commissioned.
The firm said nine million tonnes per annum of expansion capacity had been offered to nine new shareholders and commercial users, and that black economic empowerment was priority.
Mbokondo, Umcebe, Exxaro and South African Coal Mining Holdings concluded agreements with RBCY at the end of last year and were ready to rail coal.
Worldwide Coal Carolina, Mmakau, Arm Coal, Tumelo and South Dune Coal Terminal agreements are in the final stages of negotiation, RBCT said.
"I'm confedent that all new exporters will join the existing shareholders in exporting coal as early as the end of January. The development will open up the world stage to emerging coal exporters and we are proud to be part of this history." said Chirwa.
He said RBCT would reclaim its single largest export coal terminal status in the world at the beginning of the second quarter of this year.